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Brookhaven backtracks on toy policy at Ashford Park | Families

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Brookhaven backtracks on toy policy at Ashford Park
Brookhaven backtracks on toy policy at Ashford Park

BROOKHAVEN, Ga. -- Brookhaven has a toy story with a happy ending, but it was messy enough in the middle that the mayor had to intervene.

The setting is Ashford Park, where people have been leaving and donating old toys for other children to enjoy for years and years.

Even those who love the park call it the "toy graveyard."

"These toys are still in play. They're still in use," said parent Josh Zerkle. "The kids enjoy them. The parents enjoy them. It's a neat place to come and play with a bunch of toys you don't have at home."

The toys are such a draw that parents and caregivers were shocked when city workers came out on Friday and hauled them all away without any notice or warning.

It was part of a new safety screening program that was started after the City of Brookhaven took control of the parks from DeKalb County last week.

"All the kids were running around asking, 'Where are the toys? Mommy, where are the toys?' It was so sad," said caregiver Paula Spelman.

People immediately began calling and e-mailing city officials. Two hours later, the toys were back.

Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis admits the city went too far.

"The city doesn't need to get in and tell folks what to do when it comes to toys in the playground," Davis said. "We have an interest in liability and safety, but we can work that out while keeping the volunteerism spirit and charity spirit that exists in Ashford Park."

Mayor Davis said he wants to work with neighborhood leaders to make the park cleaner and safer without losing its main attraction.